Court Battles

Judge says Trump admin on track to meet deadline for reuniting families

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Federal District Court Judge Dana Sabraw said the Trump administration is on track to meet the Thursday court-ordered deadline to reunite migrant families who were separated at the southern border.

The government said in court Tuesday evening that it has identified 1,637 parents who are eligible for reunification, and of those 1,012 have been reunited.


Sabraw called the efforts a remarkable achievement and said Commander Jonathan White, who works in the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response at the Department of Health and Human Services, should be commended.

“He’s done yeoman’s work in accomplishing that,” he said.

Justice Department lawyer Sarah Fabian said the government has identified 914 parents who are ineligible for reunification, but she could not tell Sabraw how many parents have been removed from the country with their children versus without.

“I believe there have been 20 removals after reunification, but I have to confirm that,” she said.

Fabian also told the court there are 37 kids the government has not been able to match with a parent and 463 parents who were possibly deported without their children.

Though Sabraw praised the government for working quickly to reunite families, he said it has to provide the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) with more information.

He ordered the government to provide lists by noon Wednesday of the number of parents who waived reunification prior to their removal, the parents who have been removed and the parents who have been released from Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody.

“This should really be a transparent process. Some of this information is unpleasant,” he said.

“It’s the reality of the case. It’s the reality of a policy that was in place that resulted in a large number of families being separated without forethought as to reunification and keeping track of people and that’s the fallout we’re seeing.”

Tuesday’s hearing got heated after Lee Gelernt, deputy director of ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, said he was planning to file affidavits from people working to help counsel families.

Gelernt said it’s a mess on the ground and that parents have no idea what’s happening.

ACLU has asked the court to give parents who have been reunited with their children seven days to decide whether to be deported as a family or alone.

But the government has argued further delay is unwarranted. Justice Department attorney Scott Stewart said the government has tried to negotiate with ACLU and is now about to be blindsided by a raft of affidavits that are anecdotal.

Stewart said the government was caught by surprise when ACLU first filed its request for the delay, which he said was based on rumors.

The court will meet again on Friday to discuss the case.


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